4.0. Catholicon abbreviatum

The Catholicon abbreviatum, also called Catholicum abbreviatum, Catholicum parvum, Catholicon minus, Vocabularius brevidicus, and Vocabularius breviloquus, was the first printed Latin-French dictionary. Although rudimentary in terms of its consultability (see 8.1.), the CA obviously filled a niche in the market for pedagogical texts, with a printing history covering some forty years and twenty-eight editions. (For details, see Bibliography C: Editions and Existing Copies of the Catholicon abbreviatum.)

GKW (VI, 258) notes that editions of the CA printed at Rouen and Paris after 1492 differ from the rest of the editions through addition of a prologue, addition of an article concerning the spelling of the word Christus, and rearrangement of articles in the letter 'Z'. GKW also remarks that the colophon to some of these later editions, claiming the lexica of Papias, Hugutio and other authors as sources, is modelled on that of another, larger work, the Vocabularius familiaris et compendiosus. Lindemann (1994: 223) speaks of twenty-four known editions of the CA, and divides them into several categories according to title and colophon.

Based on external and internal evidence, we have divided the editions of the CA into two series: Series 1 comprises those printed in Paris, Geneva and Lyons between c.1482 and c.1508, and Series 2 includes those printed in Rouen and Paris from 1492 on.

To date we have identified twenty-eight editions  [74] by twenty-one printers. Even allowing only a modest production of each edition,  [75] there must have been at one time several thousand copies in circulation, yet so far we have found nineteenth- and twentieth-century references to only thirty-two copies.  [76] Three of the copies referred to are now missing, and there are only fragments of two pages of a fourth. There are, therefore, only twenty-eight complete (or nearly complete - some copies are imperfect, lacking certain quires) remaining copies of the CA: twenty-seven in Europe and one in North America.

The CA is a small dictionary, with just over 13,000 entries, usually printed in-quarto. Thus, it was easily portable, and the scanty number of surviving copies points out its popularity; many copies were doubtless 'used to death'. The dictionary had a didactic purpose, as had its manuscript predecessor, the Aalma glossary (see 2.5.3.). The CA's objective is outlined in the prologue to the texts in Series 2 (see

Our research in 4.1. and 4.2. is based on examination, either directly or on microfilm, of the title page, preliminary pages, colophon and printer's plaque (where these elements exist) of twenty-seven of the remaining copies of the CA.

4.1. Sources of the Catholicon abbreviatum

4.1.1. Vocabularius brevidicus: ms. Metz, BM n° 510 (A8)

In his edition of A1, Roques (1938: xx) remarks that an abridged Aalma manuscript was printed in Paris in 1485 and reprinted in Geneva in 1487, and that the printed version contains features which he has found only in the manuscript held at the Bibliothèque municipale of Metz as n° 510 (A8).

Roques' conclusion that A8 is the source for the CA is absolutely correct, although apparently he had not seen any edition earlier than 1485. The physical correspondence in page layout between A8 and Caillaut's first edition is explored in

The compiler of A8 is clearly identified in the colophon as Antoine Caillaut:

Caillaut probably wrote A8 c. 1482, at the beginning of his career as a printer, although the colophon does not give any indication of the date or of his occupation. We believe that he copied his manuscript from an earlier (as yet unidentified) Aalma manuscript. Our conclusion is supported by its similarity to A1, the oldest and most extensive manuscript in the series. In a comparison of the two manuscripts, we find that A1 contains 13,680 Latin lemmata, and A8 contains 13,070 lemmata. For example, of 844 Latin headwords under the letter 'A' in A8, only fifty-four do not occur in A1, and of 828 headwords under the letter 'A' in A1, only thirty-eight do not occur in A8. French definitions (leaving aside orthographical variants) are very close, and often identical. Forty of the fifty-four entries under the letter 'A' which do not occur in A1 include French definitions. This suggests that Caillaut's bilingual source was more extensive than A1. Also, he may have added material from his own lexical stock. A Latin dictionary was possibly the source for the remaining fourteen entries, which are glossed only by Latin definitions.

A8 is rather carelessly compiled. The script is untidy, there are many spelling errors in both Latin and French, and large sections are out of alphabetical order (see example in There are also layout errors such as two entries on one line, copying errors such as two articles combined in one, and a number of faulty readings. Some mistakes were corrected in time by various printers, beginning with Caillaut himself; other persisted throughout the life of the dictionary. In all editions an absurd reading (pointed out by Merrilees 1990: 290) is that one of the definitions for Dactilus is the French word miel. It seems certain that this is a misreading of anel. The correct spelling appears in several other Aalma manuscripts, but the identical error occurs only in A8:

4.1.2. Vocabularius familiaris et compendiosus

An important contributor to the nomenclature of the CA is the Vocabularius familiaris et compendiosus (VFC), a large Latin-French dictionary first printed in Rouen c.1490 by Guillaume Le Talleur (see 5.0.). Le Talleur's atelier was taken over late in 1491 or early in 1492 by his former associate, Martin Morin, and in June 1492 Morin published a new edition of the CA (see 4.2.11.).

Morin added a substantial quantity of new material to Caillaut's first edition to produce a revised dictionary which became the genesis for Series 2. He added or substituted new French terms in many existing articles, and he added a quantity of new articles. Through comparison with VFC it is clear that this text is the source of many of the additions to the CA.

Additions and substitutions occur throughout the text:

Exhibit 30: Comparison of lemmata in Catholicum abbreviatum c.1482,
Vocabularius familiaris et compendiosus and Catholicon abbreviatum 1492
CA c.1482 VFC c.1490 CA 1492
1. Changes in French forms.
Aluta te. alene ou cordovan Aluta .te cordoven, cuir... Aluta/te. cordoven, cuir
Amentum ti. la courroie ou le lacet qui est au millieu du javelot ou du glaive Amentum .ti lachet qui est loyé au milieu du dart pour mieulx darder... Amentum/ti. la couroie ou lacet qui est au milieu du dart ou du glaive pour mieulx darder
Apto tas avi atum. apparillier ou affietier, enformer ou essayer Apto .as appareiller, ordener, faire convenable aptum facere... Apto/as/avi/atu m. appareiller/ordener/faire convenable. aptum facere
2. New articles.
- Amatorius .a .um d'amour Amatorius/a/um. d'amour
- Anguillaris et hoc .re d'anguille ut: cibus anguillaris Anguillaris et hoc re. d'anguille. ut cibus anguillaris
- Anguillarium .rii lieu ou les anguilles sont Aguillarium <sic>/illarii. le lieu ou les anguilles sont

but it is in the letter 'Z' that the greatest concentration of changes occurs. Morin lifted all of the articles beginning with 'Z' from the VFC and substituted them, with only minor changes, for the articles beginning with 'Z' in Series 1. A comparison of lemmata in the letter 'Z' in the three texts is attached as Appendix 4.

4.2. Filiation of the Editions

The filiation of the editions of the CA is complex, especially since printers freely borrowed material without acknowledgment. In addition, the CA underwent a 'revival', with an infusion of new material, part way through its history. Finally, it is not possible to judge accurately the place occupied in the descent of the CA by the editions which are now missing.

Exhibit 31 illustrates the complicated path as we believe it to be at the present time. Series 1 begins in Paris c.1482, then goes on to Geneva, and ends in Lyons c.1508. Series 2 begins in Rouen in 1492 and flows in two streams - one through Rouen ending c.1519, and the other through Paris, ending in the mid-1520s. Title pages from fourteen editions of the CA are attached as Appendix 5; Section C of the Bibliography lists the locations of existing copies; and a summary of the sigla we have attached to the editions is shown here.

Series 1 Series 2
C1 = Caillaut c.1482 MM = Morin 1492
C2 = Caillaut c.1482-84 UP = Unknown, Paris c.1492-96
C3 = Caillaut c.1482-84 M1 = Morand 1497/98
V = Vérard 1485/86 M2 = Morand c.1500
G1 = Garbin c.1485 LN = Le Noir 1497
G2 = Garbin c.1487 T1 = Tréperel 1499
HU = Huss 1489/90 T2 = Tréperel c.1500
UL1 = Unknown, Lyons c.1490 B = de la Barre 1510
S = Schultis c.1495 HE = Hérouf c.1520-28
HA = Havard 1499/1500 LB = Le Bourgeois 1497/98
DV = de Vingle c.1500 HO = Hostingue c.1511-13
UL2 = Unknown, Lyons c.1508 GA = Gaultier 1519

An interesting aspect of the diagram in Exhibit 31 is that it also reflects the spread of printing in the three French cities. Paris was the first to receive the new technology - in 1470, and Lyons was the second - shortly after that date, while Rouen got its first printer in 1487.

Exhibit 31: Catholicon abbreviatum: Filiation of the Editions

4.2.1. Antoine Caillaut, Paris

The bookseller-printer Antoine Caillaut was established in the rue St-Jacques c.1482, and operated a printing business in Paris until at least 1505. Caillaut was the creator of the CA. He wrote the source document and subsequently printed three editions of the dictionary. Neither the manuscript nor any of the printed texts bears a date. (Apparently the omission of a date was not uncommon with Caillaut. BMC: VIII, 40 observes that "only about one in five of his known productions is dated".) Caillaut c.1482 (C1) Caillaut named his dictionary Catholicum abbreviatum, as shown on the title page of the only existing copy of his first edition (see Plate 5). This edition is dated c.1492 by GKW (VI: 259, n° 6233), but we believe this dating to be incorrect. We conclude, from careful scrutiny of Caillaut's manuscript and all of his editions, that this edition was the earliest of the three, and we have provisionally assigned it a date of c.1482.

The text duplicates virtually every error and inconsistency in the manuscript. Plate 1 and Plate 2 reproduce, respectively, folio 2r of A8 and folio a.ii.r of C1. Identical errors occur on line 7 of both pages: two articles occupy one line, and the word ael is omitted from one of the definitions in both manuscript and print.

Abavus avi. tiers <ael> m. Abbas abbe m

Plate 3 compares the colophon in the manuscript (upper half of the page) with that in the printed edition. They are clearly identical, even to the errors in orthography.

Some of the mistakes are corrected in the second edition, and still others in the third. While we can easily imagine that Caillaut might have corrected obvious faults in the manuscript before first setting it in print, we feel it is illogical to suppose that, after having printed two editions with many corrections, he printed a third as late as 1492 with all of the original errors intact. Caillaut c.1482-1484 (C2) The title page is missing from the only known copy of Caillaut's second edition, which must have followed the first printing fairly closely. The exact date is not known but is generally accepted to be c.1482-1484.

The colophon, which is very brief and does not mention Caillaut, now notes the inclusion of French translations:

C2 corrects many of the errors in the first edition. Plate 4, for example, reproduces folio a.ii.r of the second edition and illustrates the fact that the errors previously noted on line 7 have now been corrected. Some French definitions are changed in C2 and a few new articles are added. Caillaut c.1482-1484 (C3) A short time later, Caillaut printed his third and last edition of the CA. The only existing copy also lacks a title page. The colophon again contains changes, including mention of Caillaut once more: There are a number of orthographical variants in C3 but few changes in the macrostructure. (See Plate 4.)

Printing of the CA passed into the hands of another Parisian printer, before moving to Geneva and Lyons.

4.2.2. Antoine Vérard, Paris

Antoine Vérard, who established his business c.1485 (Clair 1976: 67; Renouard 1965: 424), was one of the most prominent Parisian booksellers of the late fifteenth century. A number of printers produced books for him, including Jean du Pré (Clair 1976: 64), who had been in business in Paris since 1481 (Renouard 1965: 130). Jean du Pré pour Antoine Vérard 1485/86 (V) The printer of this new edition of the CA is not named, but is accepted to be du Pré, who "worked for many of the leading booksellers and publishers, among them Vérard, Tréperel, Caillaut, and Denis Meslier" (Clair 1976: 65). The title page is lacking from the only remaining copy and it is not possible to know whether Caillaut's title was changed.

V is the first dated printing of the CA, and also the first with a French colophon:

This printing is a copy of C3 but, in addition to significant layout changes (see, many definitions are shortened and others are changed (see 4.3.2.). There are also a substantial number of typographical errors.

Vérard's edition, which was the last CA of Series 1 printed in Paris, was soon copied in Geneva.

[Next] -- [Table of Contents]